There’s what you learn by doing, and there’s what you learn by writing. Thanks to this blog, I feel like my perspective is something a bit unique: I’ve not only played the game (poorly, I’ll grant you), but I’ve also become a student of the game. That studiousness gave me an interesting perspective, and I’d like to share some of that perspective with you (now that I can just make huge open claims):
1. Most people want you to succeed: Even if they don’t agree with you, the majority of people want you to do well. I think it’s an undercurrent of bike polo–at least one of the more healthy undercurrents outside of alcoholism and angst. Folks want folks to have fun and be happy, and are more than willing to help you achieve both of those aims.
2. There are, absolutely, problems with our sport: we have very real problems with infrastructure and with how we deal with ourselves when things go wrong. We don’t quite know how to make sure that the underrepresented are represented in a strong way, or how to make sure new players feel welcome while experienced players feel valuable and competitive. But, all in time.
3. People want to learn: I’ve had some big contests (and some contests that people hated me for), but the most visited posts I’ve ever had were more about learning and understanding our sport. That’s kinda great.
4. Competition can be Friendly: The websites I was most scared of eclipsing mine were 321 POLO & Goalhole. As it turns out, Aaron and Virginia were some of my biggest supporters and amplifiers. They became good cohorts to be with, and that actually led me to change how I look at competition.
5. Meatheads are always Meatheads: People who are overly aggressive, overly pedantic, or overly critical can just be ignored. Seriously. I once tried to address every criticism and every cynical comment, but I realized I was just feeding the trolls. To hell with that noise.
6. Our Market Gets Flooded: There is, honestly, probably room for only a few bike polo companies. Right now everyone is trying to get a few bucks (which is fun, and fine), but realistically the marketplace can’t support it. I’ve watched companies come and go and come again, and that’s just how it’s going to be for a while until we either get more players or people stop trying to get their foot in the door (I’d rather their be more players).
7. Nobody is untouchable: I mean this in two ways: One, I never had someone who refused to talk to me for the sake of the blog (plenty who refused to talk to me simply because they didn’t like me, sadface emoticon), and even at the height of my journalistic power, I still made big dumb mistakes. There it is.
8. It’s easiest to just say you’re sorry: A simple life policy: when I mess up and I don’t stand by my mess up (that is, I make something that another considers a mistake and I don’t), I apologize. It’s remarkable how much the tone and anger shifts once you admit that you’re sorry and that you want to do better. This applies to bike polo as much as it applies to writing about bike polo.
9. It’s easy to be an ally of something: When I started, I wanted to be an ally to my club, and that was super easy. Then I wanted to be an ally of the new player, and that was easy, too. Then I wanted to be an ally of folks who felt like they faced unique challenges in the sport, and that, honestly, wasn’t super easy, but it was important and that made it at least an easy decision. The fact is, it doesn’t take much to separate yourself from the comfortable, silent acceptance of the majority and speak up for the minority.
10. I got lots of hate mail/how-could-you mail: and I loved every minute of it.